Sure, it was windy, but why did some trees fare worse than others?
- Trees sway back and forth in the wind, as stress is loaded and unloaded from its trunk and branches. The mechanical properties of the tree (set by size, species, etc.) control the sway period, and trees with high heights relative to their basal diameter will be more susceptible to wind damage. So some species will tend to be more wind resistant than others, and big trees will respond differently than little trees.
- As the tree roots move in response to the swaying, trees with shallow root systems will be more likely to pull out of the ground than deep rooted trees. So again, there is a species difference in the likelihood of toppling.
- But even in trees than normally have deep root systems, if there is a shallow water table (i.e., it is saturated near the surface) at least part of the time, root systems will be a lot shallower, and there will be an increased probability of blow overs. Additionally, when soils are saturated, positive pore pressure reduces the cohesive strength of the soil, which probably makes it easier for tree roots to pull out of the ground.
I'd put the blame on a shallow water table for the demise of the tree in our park:
As you can see from the pictures, even though the tree was probably 40+ feet high, its major root system extended less than 2 feet below the ground surface, and the water table (post-storm at least) is even shallower.